1965: The Inauguration of a Funicular Railway in Greece’s Capital City

April 18, 1965

A funicular railway serving Greece’s capital city of Athens was inaugurated. Regular operations for this means of public transit began the following day.

This railway, which is located in the central section of Athens, was built by the Greek National Tourism Organization to carry people up and down a steep limestone hill known as Mount Lycabettus. At a height of 908 feet (277 meters) above sea level, Mount Lycabettus marks the highest point of that part of the city. The top of this hill provides an unmatched view of the Acropolis of Athens (the now-iconic remains of several ancient structures) and other major landmarks of one of the world’s oldest and most renowned cities.

As with similar railways across the globe, the Lycabettus Funicular relies on cable traction to make travel on a precipitous incline all the more manageable. (The origins of the term “funicular” can be traced to the Latin word “funis,” which means “rope” or “cord”.) The terminal stations for the Lycabettus Funicular are on Aristippou Street in Kolonaki, an Athens neighborhood on the southern slopes of Mount Lycabettus; and at the Chapel of St. George, situated near the hill’s summit. The segment of the Lycabettus Funicular’s 690-foot (210-meter)-long line that is between those stations is enclosed in a tunnel.

Over the years, this railway has attracted international attention for the unique transportation experience that it provides. About a decade after this railway’s debut, for example, noted British artist Geoffrey Scowcroft Fletcher (1922-2004) highlighted the Lycabettus Funicular in an article that he wrote about a trip to Athens.

“The view of Athens from the Acropolis is a good way to study the city,” Fletcher asserted in that article, which was published in the London-based Daily Telegraph. “But for the most dramatic view take the funicular railway to the summit of Mt. Lycabettus, a mountain that comes to such an acute point that you have the feeling of being in a balloon.”

The Lycabettus Funicular’s cable cars travel between both terminal stations at a speed of 4.5 miles (7.2 kilometers) per hour. Each of those cars can carry up to 34 passengers. On average, approximately 300,000 people travel on this railway each year.

Photo Credit: Dennis Jarvis (licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en)

For more information on the Lycabettus Funicular, please check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lycabettus_Funicular

A video featuring this railway is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6q_-Jv_e0GU

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